Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are likely to skip the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led meeting of leaders of various Opposition parties, to draw up a strategy for the upcoming presidential election.
All eyes are on this meeting, which may well be a precursor to the emergence of a united joint Opposition front against the BJP. In the meeting, the parties are all set to discuss the possibility of the Opposition parties getting together to name a joint presidential candidate. The meeting will be held at the Constitution Club in Delhi at 3 pm today (June 15).
Traditional rivalries, however, emerged to the fore as a few non-BJP parties decided to stay out of the big Opposition meeting in the run-up to the crucial presidential election.
The Congress, however, agreed to join the meeting despite their animosity towards TMC chief. Senior leaders from the Congress, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh, and Randeep Singh Surjewala, are expected to attend the meeting. The Left too has said they will attend the meeting.
Nationalist Congress Party Sharad Pawar, who has politely declined to be named as the consensus presidential candidate, will be attending the joint meeting. Representatives from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Shiv Sena’s Subhash Desai and a number of other parties will also be present.
TRS opts out
The most prominent Opposition party that decided not to join this crucial meeting is the TRS, led by Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao. According to news reports, Rao has said that he is not keen to share the dais with the Congress, which is the main Opposition party in Telangana. He accused the Congress of “ganging up with the BJP” in Telangana, especially in the recent bypolls. Further, Rao said that Rahul Gandhi at a recent public meeting in Telangana slammed the TRS and did not utter a word of criticism against the BJP.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, who said his party was not invited also raised objection to the Congress being called for the meeting.
Meanwhile, AAP, which is not likely to attend the meeting said they will decide after the Opposition parties decide on a presidential candidate. Shiromani Akali Dal has also opted out of the meeting because of the Congress, a party leader said.
The presidential elections are scheduled to take place on July 18 and the results will be declared on July 21.
Mamata Banerjee invited 22 political parties to the meeting in New Delhi to discuss the possibility of putting up a united fight against the BJP and its allies in the presidential election. Shortly after reaching Delhi, Mamata met NCP leader Sharad Pawar at his home amid speculation that his name is being suggested as the Opposition’s choice for the president’s post. The NCP chief reportedly turned down Banerjee’s proposal for his candidature as president, said news reports.